With 12 games on Saturday's slate, beginning with some afternoon action, there's no time to waste. Let's get right to the recaps.
BRIUNS 3, ISLANDERS 1
— For the first time since Dec. 29, the Bruins have reached the .500 mark at home. That’s kind of important come playoff time. If the Bruins can gain some momentum, watch out: they are a remarkable 23-7-3 on the road. They’ve played two more games than the Panthers and Lightning, but right now, they lead the Atlantic Division.
— The hockey world might get an official introduction to David Pastrnak (two goals) in the playoffs. He has the potential to be a game-changing presence. He has four goals over his past four games, which is good for 12 goals and 22 points on the year. He’s only 20.
— Not moving Loui Eriksson (goal, two assists) was in the best interest of the Bruins’ season. Not necessarily their future, but … hey, if you think you can win a Stanley Cup, why not? A lot of things will have to go right for Boston to do that. Eriksson, 30, has 26 goals and 53 points. What’s that worth to you?
Editor's Note: This is your chance to try FanDuel risk free! Sign up today and if you lose your first contest, you’ll be refunded the entry fee up to $10. Play now.
— Tuukka Rask (25 saves) is picking a good time to play his best hockey. He has a .930 SV%. Important because it’s not like the Bruins are a top-tier possession team.
— John Tavares (goal) has scored in three consecutive games. He’s had a quiet year, with 26 goals and 54 points in 63 games. Points-per-game wise, it would be his worst season since 2010-11, his second year in the league.
SABRES 3, HURRICANES 2 (overtime)
— Jack Eichel (two goals) is noticing all the love Connor McDavid and Shayne Gostisbehere are getting and saying, “What about me?” He’s been on a tear in March, with five goals and seven points in seven games. He also has 25 shots on goal, one off a month high for him in his rookie season.
— Phillip Di Giuseppe (goal) has posted at least a point in four consecutive games. More promising is that he has 13 shots on goal in that span. A second-round pick in 2012, Di Giuseppe hasn’t yet lived up to that promise, at the AHL or NHL.
— Victor Rask (goal) has had a productive second season. He has four points over his past four games. Not sure if he’ll ever be an elite center, but a middle-six one is certainly valuable.
— Cam Ward (21 saves) has been back to his old tricks lately, posting above a .900 SV% once in his past six games. It’s quite amazing that the Hurricanes are still in the playoff race, despite some shoddy goaltending and lack of talent. They have stayed competitive even after trading Eric Staal, too.
RED WINGS 3, RANGERS 2 (overtime)
— That the Rangers got a point in this game should be considered a miracle as the Red Wings dominated from puck drop. Score-adjusted possession favored Detroit: 52-30. Ugly for the Rangers.
— They can thank Henrik Lundqvist (40 saves) for the point. Lundqvist deserved better. The lead disappeared in the third as the Red Wings scored twice to force overtime. Lundqvist was playing his first game since suffering a neck injury March 3. He deserves to receive some Vezina love. The Rangers are subpar without him.
— Darren Helm (two goals) scored the first goal in the third and the OT winner. He also had a whopping eight shots on goal, revealing just how much speed can exploit a slow Rangers defense. Even with points in back-to-back games, Helm is not worth owning down the stretch.
— Brad Richards (goal) potted the tying goal with 32 seconds left, on the power play. Richards has largely been ineffective, but he still finds ways to get big goals.
— Derek Stepan (goal) has played like a man on mission lately. He also had six shots on goal. Stepan has recorded five points over his past five games. He’s had a bit of a disappointing year, though his upside makes him worth rostering the rest of the way. He could be a 60-point guy in a healthy season.
JETS 3, AVALANCHE 2
— I was way wrong when I predicted the Jets to reach the playoffs this season, but I think they can be an intriguing team next year. Notice I didn’t say playoff team. I really like their young players.
— Especially, Mark Scheifele (goal, assist), who has recorded at least a point in seven consecutive games. He’s become one of my favorite players. For those who own him in keeper leagues, I would hold onto him tightly. He has become a star over the past two months, now with 21 points in 19 games since February. No reason to think he can’t be a point-per-game guy next year.
— Drew Stafford (goal) has never been a player who will carry your team, though he’s on pace for his first 20-goal season since 2011-12.
— Ondrej Pavelec (35 saves) has surely fooled you before, so don’t let it happen again. Just when you think he’s usable, he’ll give up four like he did in the last game. Similar to streaming in baseball leagues, you should do the same with opposing forwards when he’s in net.
— Matt Duchene (goal, assist) has recorded at least a point in three games in a row. While he's unlikely to get to his career high of 70 points, he is one goal shy of 30, which is saying something. Though, it’s worth noting he’s scoring at a 15.7% clip, 3% higher than his career average.
— Semyon Varlamov (27 saves) is either a guy who can win you a fantasy series or lose you one. You never know which guy you’ll get. He had given up one goal on 75 shots prior to this one. The Avs are sitting outside the playoffs, which is where they belong. This is not a very good team.
WILD 4, CANADIENS 1
— The Minnesota Wild, your new second-place wild-card team. The West standings now will be what you see come the end of the season. The Coyotes are too far out, and the Avalanche just aren’t that good.
— Great game for Mikael Granlund (two goals). So here’s the deal with him: the Wild want him to be a top-line center. It doesn’t seem like he’s there yet, as 10 goals (career high) and 36 points would illustrate. At least he’s recorded a career high in shots (131), though even that’s not all that impressive. I really don’t see him fulfilling that role anytime soon.
— Granlund scored one of his goals on the power play, the 13th road game in a row the Wild have gotten one of those.
— Nino Niederreiter (goal, assist) is actually a very good player, even if 15 goals and 35 points don’t show it. Another young player the Wild have high hopes for, though his progress has been more noticeable. I could see him get to 50 points next season.
— Devan Dubnyk (30 saves) has posted a .925 SV% in five March games. That will get the job done. He will likely have to be a one-man show come playoff time. The Wild have little chance without him at his best.
— Mark Barberio (goal) had the lone marker for the Canadiens. Not much to say about him other than that three of his nine points have come over his past two games. Don’t get too excited.
SENATORS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 0
— The Senators remain a poor possession team with a bad defense and above-average offense. Once in a while they get lucky and their goalie, this time it was Craig Anderson (29 saves), carries them. That has not been the case recently, though, as Anderson had given up 17 goals in his previous four games.
— Zack Smith (goal) has scored in five consecutive games. Worth owning? If you believe in puck luck, then it’s probably about to run it for Smith, who has 13 shots during that span. While he does have 21 goals, he has just 30 points. The 70 penalty minutes are what make him at least looking at twice.
— Mark Stone (goal, two assists) has recorded at least a point in five consecutive games. He has quieted any doubters that thought a repeat of last year was unlikely. His 22 goals are four shy and his 57 points are seven away from last season’s totals.
— It’s unusual for a Swedish player to not be good defensively, but that’s the case for Mika Zibanejad (goal). I think there’s room to grow on the offensive side, too. He’s still just 22 years old.
— Garret Sparks (13 saves), good job, good effort. Bravo. That’s what the Leafs need to ensure a high draft pick.
COYOTES 4, OILERS 0
— Mike Smith (44 saves) missed 40 games because of surgery on a core muscle injury. All he did was record his second shutout of the season. In a perfect world, Louis Domingue continues to get the majority of starts, because he’s a young player who could potentially be a part of the future. But Smith has a deal through 2019 that carries a $5.66 million cap hit. So that will likely dictate the playing time.
— Antoine Vermette (two goals, assist) is showing he still has something left in the tank. With 12 goals and 30 points, he’s not close to being of any assistance in fantasy leagues.
— Viktor Tikhonov (goal) has to prove himself now. Is he an NHL player? He becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason. This goal was his first since Dec. 31, and second of the season.
— Cam Talbot (25 saves) has altered good and bad starts over his past four games. The bigger picture is that he has a .918 SV% on a team that doesn’t play great defense.
PANTHERS 5, FLYERS 4 (shootout)
— Shayne Gostisbehere (goal) is what they call “cold-blooded.” The rookie has 15 goals, and all of them have either tied a game or put the Flyers ahead. If the Flyers reach the playoffs, I don’t know how the defenseman doesn’t win the Calder. He has single-handedly changed the look of this team.
— The Panthers have some nice forward depth. Reilly Smith (two goals) is one of those guys. He has points in three consecutive games. Smith is a great depth guy in fantasy leagues, now with 23 goals and 43 points. There has been growth to his game, too.
— Aleksander Barkov (goal), if he isn’t now, will be one of the best players in the East next season. He has gotten a point in seven of his past nine games. Jaromir Jagr (two assists) will be a treat to watch in the playoffs, but Barkov will weigh heavily on the Panthers’ fortunes as he’ll go up against the opposition’s top centers/lines.
— Jonathan Huberdeau (goal) has five points in three games since returning from a concussion. Two goals in two games are noteworthy because he’s been more of a pass-first guy: 13 goals, 32 assists. Another guy whose arrow is pointing in the right direction.
— Roberto Luongo (22 saves) has not been the difference-maker the Panthers need. He has an .883 SV% in March, after a stopping 90% of the shots against in February. The Panthers will be significantly weaker if he isn’t one of their best players.
— Nick Cousins (goal) has five goals and eight points in 25 games. He had 12 goals and 38 points in 38 games in the AHL before being recalled. Don’t think he’ll quite be a frontline forward, but a depth one? Sure.
— The Flyers are two points behind the Penguins for the final wild-card spot in the East. Their play of late has turned this into a race worth watching. They need better performances from their netminder. Steve Mason (25 saves) had given up three goals total in his past three contests.
BLUES 5, STARS 4 (overtime)
— This would be a fun playoff matchup, wouldn’t it?
— Alex Pietrangelo (goal, assist) scored the game-winning goal, his fifth of the season. It has been a mediocre season for him offensively as he now has 28 points. But it wouldn’t surprise to see him post a half-point per game the rest of the way.
— Kevin Shattenkirk (two goals) is going to be an important part of this defense during the stretch run/playoffs. GM Doug Armstrong was smart not to move him, despite rumors swirling prior to the trade deadline. There just aren’t many defensemen with these skills.
— Vladimir Tarasenko (goal, assist) has three goals and six points over his past three games. He’s become one of the top pure goal scorers in the game, now with 33 on the year. Forty isn’t out of reach, either.
— Jake Allen (34 saves) wasn’t at his best, but he has now won six games in a row. During this stretch, he has allowed 15 goals. Is it a stretch to think of the Blues as the best team in the West? The question is: Can they finally get past the first round of the playoffs?
— Jason Spezza (two goals) has notched a goal in six consecutive games. Spezza's best goal-scoring days appeared to be behind him, until now. He might be able to get to 35, a career high. He’s at 28 now, 10 in his past nine games. Keep rolling him out there.
— Jamie Benn (goal, assist) forced overtime with his goal at 18:48. He has points in four consecutive games. Thirty-five goals matches a career high, and he’s nine points from reaching his best there too (87). The sad thing is Dallas doesn’t defend enough or have good enough goaltending to bank on them in the playoffs.
CANUCKS 4, PREDATORS 2
— My hot take on this game: If you’re the Predators, you can’t lose to the Canucks.
— Goaltending was the difference. Pekka Rinne (24 saves) has generally been pretty good lately, especially since the start of February. He’s allowed to have an off night once in a while, and luckily Nashville has a seven-point lead in the wild-card race.
— Bo Horvat (goal, assist) could eventually become a solid contributor. Two years into his career, he’s not there yet. This goal ended a 13-game drought without one. He probably could’ve used some more time in the AHL before getting promoted last season.
— Sven Baertschi (goal) has points in four of his past five games. Still not on the fantasy radar, though.
— Daniel Sedin (goal) got a goal with the net empty, but it counts the same on the stat sheet. Even at 35, Sedin has been productive, now with 26 goals and 57 points.
— Ryan Miller (35 saves) was the difference. In four games (three losses) prior to this one, he had given up 13 goals. Miller is a backup at this stage of his career, even if he’s making money that indicates otherwise.
DEVILS 2, KINGS 1 (overtime)
— John Moore (goal) has four goals this season … remarkably, three of them have been overtime winners, like this one. He seems to have the raw tools to be a good offensive defenseman. But it doesn’t look like they will add up any time soon.
— A lot of credit to the Devils in this one. On the road, they forced the Kings to play their style of hockey — boring, low-event. The Kings had 17 scoring chances, while the Devils had 16 (all situations, per hocekystats.ca).
— Keith Kinkaid (22 saves) has given up one goal in his past two games, on 53 shots against. He’s still far too risky to own.
— Anze Kopitar (goal) began the season slowly … but he’s been one of the best players in the game good ever since. He has three goals and six points in March.
SHARKS 5, CAPITALS 2
— We need to treasure players like Joe Thornton (goal, assist). The fact that he’s still playing at an elite level at 36 is amazing. He has 16 goals and 66 points. It doesn’t seem like his career should end when his contract is up in 2017.
— Joe Pavelski (goal, assist) has goals in three of his past four games. He has recorded at least 30 goals in four seasons (it would be four consecutive if not for the lockout). Team USA needs that scoring touch come September, too.
— Patrick Marleau is another 36-year-old who is still producing … just not to the level of Thornton. Marleau has 20 goals and 20 assists.
— Everyone assumed that T.J. Oshie (goal) would become this offensive force next to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Twenty-one goals and 43 points certainly don’t paint that picture, though he’s already reached his career high in goals. Let’s not discount how good of a fit it’s been in DC for him, either.